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Migration Concerns For Europe

  • October 30th, 2008
  • Posted by Daniel Challis

eustory4pic1.gifThe head of Europe’s border security operations has expressed concern about growing numbers of “boat people” crossing the Mediterranean this year.

The comments from Illika Laitinen, director of the Frontex organisation, coincided with the latest illegal immigration case – the discovery of 200 people, mostly Indian nationals, on their way to the United Kingdom through Belgium.


Mr Laitinen, quoted in the Brussels-based weekly European Voice, said there has been a sudden jump in the number of arrivals at points like the Italian island of Lampedusa, and Malta, in the first six months of this year.

He said the increase in arrivals was “alarming” and that the situation was one of “continuous pressure.”


Police in Brussels (19.10.08) raided “safehouses” kept by a human trafficking ring and arrested 15 people involved in the attempted smuggling of 200 Indian nationals into the UK.

The would-be migrants were mostly men aged between 15 and 35, some of whom had reportedly paid as much as €20,000 (AU$26,940; for a safe passage via Russia and Belgium and then into Britain.

Assistant Prosecutor Tim De Wolf said a year-long police investigation led to the clandestine operation being uncovered, in which two of the “brains” behind the trafficking operations were among those arrested.

“The ring was capable of smuggling thousands of people into Europe every year,” he said.

“They controlled a whole series of little groups, sometimes working together, sometimes competing against each-other. We hope that we have broken up the core of the network.”

The police had found the Indians were being kept in miserable conditions while waiting to be taken on the final leg of their journey.


The recent incident came as Britain’s Immigration Minister Phil Woolas was expressing concern over possible impacts of immigration on employment in a looming financial recession.

Woolas called for a tougher immigration policy in the face of a rising population, with fewer jobs available as a result of an economic downturn.

“Clearly if people are being made unemployed, then the question of immigration becomes extremely thorny”, he said.

“It’s been too easy to get into this country in the past and it’s going to get harder.”

Woolas’s stance contrasts with the European Council  declaration (see EU Australia, ‘Migration Solutions Within Europe’, 13.9.08) earlier this year for receiving countries to assure the participation of migrant people in society.

Britain is a popular destination for Indian migrants due to its already established Indian community.


Jim Brunsden, “Frontex chief warns about failure to reduce migration”, European Voice, Brussels, 11-17.9.08, p.40.

Picture: Projection of migration movements for the coming 40 years, (United Nations).